Resized_20180529_103528

A brief history of Pioneer House

“People must remember that Pioneer House is a facility owned by everyone in the community and managed by a voluntary committee who endeavour to do their best in the interests of the pioneers of our district,” Mr Don Kurtz stated in his report at the 1981 annual general meeting of the Mudgee and District Senior Citizens Welfare Association held at the CWA Rooms in Mudgee. Pioneer House in various forms has been a landmark in Mudgee for a long time.

With the advent of the new wings and refurbishment, so goes the old, and the last vestiges of the original Pioneer House building known as Braeholme.

 

“Pioneer House” as such, came into being with the purchase of the property “Braeholme”, by the Mudgee and District Senior Citizens’ Welfare Association. Braeholme’s history, however, is a story in itself, as it has changed hands, changed residents, and changed uses many times over past years. Braeholme was built 1916-1917 as a private hospital. The hospital was owned and conducted by Matron Ogden, who had run another private hospital, also in Mudgee before she built Braeholme. Matron Ogden retired in the mid 1920’s, and the hospital was then taken over by Matron McBrair, who ran it with her sister until 1950, when it was sold to the Presbyterian Church. The Church established a committee to conduct Braeholme as a boys’ hostel known as the Central Tablelands School Hostel for Boys. The hostel was not successful and was closed in the early 1950’s.

The premises were then sold to Mrs Winks, the licencee of the Lue Hotel, who conducted business as a Men’s boarding house, known as Agincourt Guesthouse.

 

How did Pioneer House as it is now, begin?

Minutes for a meeting at the home of Dr Barr, on Thursday February 1, 1962, describe the intention of “Forming a temporary committee under the auspices of the Mudgee and District Development Progress Association”.
The meeting was formed ‘to ascertain ways and means of raising monies to establish a home for the aged and semi-invalid people of Mudgee and environs. The inaugural meeting was held on April 7, 1962, and the “Mudgee and District Senior Citizens’ Welfare Association was formed.

The first chairman was Dr Barr. Initial objectives of the Association were “to promote and undertake, or assist in promoting and undertaking benevolent assistance for elderly and infirm people in the shire”

 

  •  by providing a benevolent relief by establishing and maintaining a club or clubs
  • To establish and maintain a ‘Meals on Wheels’ service
  • To organise and maintain a visiting service
  • To establish and maintain a hostel, home, or home units, or the like for the accommodation and care of elderly and infirm people

Considerable fundraising and work was carried out towards these objectives; the Association and its sub-committees meanwhile considering various locations in town suitable for a home.

The committee looked at likely blocks of land and buildings. Nothing was suitable, then the guesthouse owned by Mrs Winks was offered to the committee for 7,500 pounds, walk in walk out. Agincourt was purchased in November 1964. Mrs Ada Mogg accepted the position of licencee, and it was registered as a convalescent home.
It was not until January 1968, however, that it was eventually paid for and at which stage it provided 14 beds. Intense fundraising activities continued to supplement numerous donations, while alterations and plans for the new home were carried out. Carmichael and Rickwood’s tender for renovations, at 2,904 pounds was accepted in December 1964.

Meanwhile, the question of staff for the home was considered, not the least of which was for a matron. Sister Dickie was appointed as first sister in charge, Miss Quarmby and Mrs Moufarrige put forward their intention of forming an Auxiliary, “Pals” to work for equipment for Pioneer House, in August 1965, and the Auxiliary was officially accepted by a general meeting of the Association in September 1965. Just prior to the official opening, Sister Dickie advised that she would not take the position of Sister in Charge, and Miss Aileen Price agreed to take the position until December 23.

 

1965 opening

Residents arrived in mid November, and the official opening of Pioneer House was held in late November, 1965. The next Sister appointed was Sister Fulton. At the fourth annual general meeting of the Association, Dr Barr resigned as chairman, and was replaced by Mrs Dorrie Byrnes. It was suggested that Dr Barr accept the position of Patron of the Association. One of Dr Barr’s last duties as chairman was to authorise employment of another sister, Sister Bray, after Sister Fulton tendered her resignation.

Matron Bray tendered her resignation at the March meeting of the Association, to be replaced by Matron Murdoch. Reverend Drury was elected the next chairman, at the 1967 annual general meeting. Extension to Pioneer House were discussed in September 1967, and it was resolved that operations be extended by increasing accommodation. Endacott Brothers were granted the contract to build these extensions to provide 16 beds at a cost of $22,000.

In the interim, Reverend Drury tendered his resignation, and Mr Spring was then appointed to the position of chairman. The new wing the “Ada Mogg Wing” was opened on Saturday, February 22, 1968 by Roger Wotton, who was member for Burrendong at the time. Mr Spring tendered his resignation as honorary solicitor in 1970, which he had carried out for the life of the organisation, and Mr Hannaford took up his position. Mr Spring also tendered his resignation as Chairman at the annual general meeting of 1971, and Mr Box was elected as chairman. Property in the vicinity of Pioneer House had been both donated and purchased over the years, and tentative plans for further extensions were submitted by the manager, Mr Murdoch, in mid 1971, to investigate the plans further. The builder appointed was Mr Darcy Endacott.

 

40 beds

With the addition of 10 more beds, the facility was extended to a 40 bed home, and the new extensions were officially opened by John England, M.H.R., on November 25, 1972. The following year, 1973, saw another new chairman, Mr R Hazell, elected. In 1975, Mr Don Kurtz moved that the Facility and Grounds Committee be directed to provide plans for additions to the premises, yet again. Matron Murdoch resigned early in 1976, and gave her last and ninth report to the May 1976 annual general meeting.

The new Matron was Matron Bray, who stayed until July 1977. An acting matron was appointed until Matron Drinkwater was appointed in December, 1977. Early in 1978 a letter was sent to Mr O’Keefe to approach the Minister for Social Security, with the view to assist the Association with a 2 to 1 grant for the alterations and extension. This was temporarily put on hold until further negotiations proved successful in gaining a grant.

It was then decided in May 1978 that the architects be instructed to press the Health Commission for permission to alter the project so that provision of a 10 new bed area would be stage one of the project immediately, and the balance of the project would be proceeded with immediately further funds became available. Mr Kurtz, was elected after the annual general meeting of May 1978, after Mr Hazell resigned. Approval for the new building project was announced at a special general meeting in October, 1979.

 

50 beds

Recommendations for Stage 2 to be considered, and plans to be drawn up, were given at the meeting of December 1980, at the same time that a presentation was made to Matron Drinkwater for her retirement. She was replaced by Matron, Mrs Joan Kempton. Stage 1 was completed in November 1981, and building for Stage 2 was commenced in March 1982

The Mudgee Guardian, Friday, November 19, 1982.

 

Matron Joan Kempton resigned in 1985 and Matron Cheryle Weaver was engaged in March 1985. Mr Alan Little was elected chairman at the annual general meeting of the association on September 25th, 1990. He took over from Don Kurtz who had been involved as a committee member for 17 years. A new treasurer was also elected at this meeting to take over from Bruce Lindbeck who resigned and moved to Bathurst. Mr Dennis Yeo has taken this position.

The Mudgee Guardian, Friday, December 14, 1990.

 

Pioneer House launched a drive in September 2004 to raise $250,000 during the following 12 months. The facility plans to use the money to add 30 more desperately needed beds, to upgrade older wards to private rooms with ensuites and to carry out improvements such as making ramps less steep to comply with ever-changing government regulations for aged care facilities.

The Mudgee Guardian, Friday, September 3, 2004.

 

80 beds

Work has begun on Pioneer House to turn it into a modern nursing home twice the present size. The landscape has been bulldozed and laying out of the foundations has begun for a footprint for the building that will be double the size it is now, with an additional 30 low care nursing beds, all with ensuite facilities. The present facility will be refurbished at the same time, bringing the present 50 bed nursing home to an 80 bed facility.

The Mudgee Guardian, Monday, August 14, 2006.

 

Residents of Pioneer House moved to new quarters this week, following completion of two new low care wings. This will leave the old residence clear to be gutted and refurbished. The move is temporary – three months while the old building is prepared.

The Mudgee Guardian, Wednesday, June 6, 2007.

 

The present Pioneer House Aged Care Building was officially opened on Saturday, 17th May 2008, by the member for Parkes, Mark Coulton.